2018 Veteran Suicide Mortality Study

2018 Veteran Suicide Mortality Study

Year published

Researching Veteran suicides and supporting prevention efforts is a priority for Veterans Affairs Canada. The Department partnered with the Department of National Defence and Statistics Canada for this study.

What is this Research About?

This report builds on the 2017 Veteran Suicide Mortality Study which measured the magnitude of suicide in the Canadian Armed Forces Veteran population. It identifies subpopulations at greater risk of dying by suicide as well as the length of time after release Veterans were at the greatest risk of dying by suicide.

What did the Researchers Do?

Military career records of former Regular and Reserve Class C personnel were linked to Statistics Canada death records. Records from 1976 to 2012 were examined (37 years). Using this data the researchers were able to identify suicide risk factors at the time of a Veteran’s release from the military as well as changes to that risk over time.

What did the Researchers Find?

  • The study examined more than 200,000 CAF Veterans released between 1976 and 2012
  • Of this group, 89% were male, 60% released at lower ranks, and 26% released since 2000
  • The majority of the cohort (95%) had served in the Regular Force at some point while 14% had at least some service in Reserve Class C
  • For the most part, the analyses were completed separately for males and females

Male Veterans

  • Suicide risk was greater for Junior Non-Commissioned Members at release and for those who released involuntary
  • Suicide risk decreased as age increased. Males were at the highest risk approximately four years post release and decreased to Canadian male levels after 20 years.
  • The risk was similar for Class C Reserve Force and Regular Force Veterans

Female Veterans

  • Suicide risk was greater for Non-Commissioned Members at release
  • Age at release, age at death and service component (i.e., Regular or Reserve Force) were not indicators of increased suicide risk
  • Risks were lowest in the first decade after release from the military and highest in the second decade. The risk was highest approximately 20 years after release


Simkus K, VanTil L. 2018 Veteran Suicide Mortality Study: Identifying Risk Groups at Release. Charlottetown (PE): Veterans Affairs Canada, Research Directorate Technical Report; December 4, 2018.